chapter  7
Pages 14

The past two decades have seen an international move away from 'fault-based' divorce legislation. This, in turn, has led to the adoption of a conciliatory approach to the resolution of disputes arising from separation and divorce, particularly those which centre on children. In Britain there are now around 22 voluntary and statutory agencies affiliat­ ed with the National Family Conciliation Council which offer a service to families. The conciliators staffing such agencies are drawn from a variety of disciplines including law, social work and psychol­ ogy. Many have a background in areas such as marriage guidance or probation. Inevitably this has resulted in a somewhat eclectic approach to the practice of conciliation, theoretical concepts being drawn from a variety of sources. Parkinson (1985) lists six different perspectives which include psychoanalytic theory, family systems theory, crisis theory, communications theory, attachment theory, and conflict management theory. However, it seems that family systems theory is becoming the dominant perspective as it has been argued that, although conciliation is not therapy, the concepts and practices derived from it have much to offer the separating family (Horwill, 1983; Robinson & Parkin­ son, 1985). Nevertheless, there is a risk that such a perspective can in fact present disputes between separating spouses as being more complex than is necessary by focusing on the whole family system and there is room for alternative models. This chapter puts forward rational-emotive theory as a model from which conciliators can derive useful concepts and practices.